Pensions Bill tops employment agenda in Queen’s Speech

The
Government is ready to introduce a new Pensions Bill to protect the rights of
employees in company schemes.

The
Bill, which was announced as part of the Queens Speech is designed to act as a
safety net for members of final salary schemes.

The
new Bill will mean greater protection for employees of insolvent firms and
establish a pensions regulator.

Deborah
Cooper, a senior research actuary at consultants Mercer said the Bill should be
launched as soon as possible, but warned that it may not provide all the
answers to the UK’s creaking pensions system.

“The
pension protection fund will help restore faith in pensions, but the level of
protection may have been oversold, though this might only emerge over the long
term,” she said.

The
speech also outlined plans to offer same-sex couples the same pensions,
benefits and legal rights currently enjoyed by married people.

The
civil partnership Bill will also enable gay couples to register for joint state
pensions and other national rights from 2010.

Another
draft Bill will firm up the rights of disabled employees and students.

One
of the most contentious aspects of the speech was the Government’s decision to
abolish upfront fees for university students and introduce variable charges.

However,
the Government failed to announce the expected corporate killing laws or rules
forcing public bodies to promote sex equality.

By Ross Wigham

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